Umbrella Companies for Public Sector Contractors – IR35 Choice

Umbrella Companies for Public Sector Contractors

Umbrella Companies for Public Sector Contractors

We are now seeing a massive take-up of umbrella companies for public sector contractors.

This is due to the Government changing the rules for contractors who work in the private sector.

They have now taken the IR35 decision out of contractors hands and it is the Government department who will now decide a contractor’s status.

The contractor can appeal this – to HMRC.

(Pause for a chuckle)

New Online HMRC IR35 Test

HMRC are telling us that they are devising an online IR35 test which will show whether a contractor is inside IR35 or outside it.

Of course, it will do nothing of the kind.

It is the laws of the land and the courts which decide that.

They have already told us that they are going to ‘cheat’ with this test.

Even before they have unveiled it they are telling us that they expect 90% of contractors to fail it.

How can that be?

Currently more than 90% of contractors are OUTSIDE IR35.

Indeed, when HMRC investigate contractors for IR35 they have a very low success rate.

And they must surely be picking what they see as the likeliest candidates.

Keep Using Their Personal Service Companies

Of course, most public sector contractors would prefer to keep using their personal service companies.

However, they are taking a big risk if they ask to sit the online IR35 test to try to prove their status.

The results are relayed to HMRC.

If the contractor fails the IR35 test, and has previously been using a personal service company on previous contracts, he, or she, is a prime target for investigation.

Government Picking on Contractors in the Public Sector

It’s easier for the Government to attack contractors in the public sector than in the private sector.

To hit those in the private sector they have to change the IR35 legislation.

Then they might have to fight long battles in the courts.

With public sector contractors they can just change their ‘house rules’.

After all, employers can make any rules they want when hiring contractors.

No Longer Taking Contractors Using Personal Service Companies

Some Government departments are now taking the easy way out and saying that they will no longer take on contractors using personal service companies.

The news on contractor websites has been about the number of contractors who have either quit the public sector because of this, or who plan to before it comes in during early April.

Umbrella Companies for Public Sector Contractors Option

However, an even bigger story is about the number of contractors who are dumping their personal service companies and going en masse to umbrella companies.

There is a big sudden uptake in umbrella companies for public sector contractors.

Sudden Demand for Umbrella Companies

Another contractor website owner told us that he was snowed under by public sector contractors wanting umbrella companies.

A provider of umbrella company services told us that they are snowed under too.

They are telling us that they are getting one contractor applying to join them from a public sector department and then getting the contact details from him, or her, of other contractors in the department who want them to contact them about joining them.

It’s an absolute stampede of public sector contractors out of PSCs and into umbrella companies.

Many more are doing this than leaving the public sector.

I’m sure that many more of them would like to quit.

Public Sector Business and Systems Knowledge

However, the reality is that their skills and business knowledge pertain to the public sector and they are not going to be at the front of the queue for contracts with banks, telecoms companies or oil companies.

So, for many, the reality of the situation is that they have to join umbrella companies.

And that is what most are doing in their hundreds and thousands.

It looks like it is umbrella companies for public sector contractors now for the most part.

Ad – Simply Umbrella – Simply the Best

New umbrella product Simply Umbrella came into being to solve this problem.

It adheres to all the new tax rules. They created it after the Chancellor’s spring statement.

It’s just like other umbrella companies in that the contractor is an employee of Simply Umbrella but they get to keep far more of their money than through an ordinary umbrella company.

It could be a great solution for both public sector contractors IR35 problems and indeed any contractor.

To find out more just click on Simply Umbrella.

Or simply fill in the form below and they will be in touch.

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Offshore Schemes legal says top HMRC boss

Offshore Schemes Legal

Offshore Schemes Legal

Are offshore schemes legal? Are the Offshore Umbrella Companies that contractors use legal?

Offshore Schemes can be perfectly legal HMRC’s Commissioner and Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, Jennie Granger, said. According to today’s Times she conceded that “There is nothing illegal about an international structure, especially in a globally integrated economy and these arrangements may be particularly legitimate”.

So, many contractors and freelancers are now aping the bigger companies and even members of Parliament. They are using offshore schemes such as offshore umbrella companies.

Offshore Schemes Legal – Tax Systems of Countries

Jonathan Schwartz, a barrister at Temple Tax Chambers and a professor in international tax law, said “All laws influence and tax laws are no different. The tax behaviour of companies is largely driven by the tax systems they engage with.

“Tax administrators must apply the law as it exists rather than what they, or anyone else, might think it ought to be”.

Offshore Umbrella Companies Legal

That makes a lot of sense. There’s no point in Governments or MPs moaning about companies behaving immorally, when avoiding tax, when they just follow the tax rules created by Governments. It is their laws that make offshore schemes legal.

Usually the companies are just using schemes that the Government created, like special tax dispensation for the film industry, so that they come to the UK rather than go elsewhere.

The UK Government complain about companies avoiding paying tax whilst, at the same time, progressively cutting Corporation Tax. This is with the purpose of undercutting other countries. It is their stated intention to have the lowest Corporation Tax of all the G8 countries.

David Cameron’s Legacy

Then there’s David Cameron whose family money came from his father Ian’s use for himself, and others, of offshore schemes. There’s Chancellor Osborne who has an offshore family trust worth £4.5m.

Then there’s Margaret Hodge herself, the hammer of the multinationals like Google, whom she calls immoral. She has been exposed as owning part of an offshore company.

Stemcor paid her dividends of £50,000 last year. Her stake is worth over a million pounds. Tax was paid at less than 2%. Google would have been appreciative.

Said Mike Dean of Milestone International Tax partners “The companies under fire are doing nothing wrong legally, morally or ethically. They are, in fact, using the tax system in the way intended”.

Therefore, its Government laws that make offshore schemes legal like offshore umbrella companies.

Gain an Advantage

It is Governments who have been trying to ‘cheat’ and gain an advantage on other countries, in certain areas, that has caused this problem. Offshore schemes and offshore umbrella companies are just taking advantage of all of this.

So, it is Governments who make offshore schemes legal.

See our Offshore Umbrella Company Directory

offshore umbrella company list

Offshore Umbrella Company List

Offshore Umbrella Companies and how they work

How They Work - Offshore Umbrella Companies

How They Work

Contractors want to know how they work.

Offshore Umbrella Companies normally operate through loans. In 1979 the Thatcher government, in one of its very first bills, allowed money to go offshore untaxed. It doesn’t get taxed till it comes back onshore, if ever.

This opened the way for offshore schemes and offshore umbrella companies which operate in places like the Isle of Man, Jersey, the Bahamas, Bermuda etc.

Indeed most of the world’s hedge funds operate from one of the UK’s offshore islands.

How they work is that money held offshore is not taxed unless it returns to the UK. Among the first to take advantage of this were the Tory Party grandees.

David Cameron’s father made his money this way by setting up schemes both for himself and others. David Cameron’s inheritance came mostly from money earned this way. Another to benefit is Chancellor Osborne who has £4.5m held offshore in a family trust.

Tory Party’s Money

Much of the Tory party’s money comes from people who operate these schemes. Lord Ashcroft, the top donor and fundraiser for the Conservative Party operates these offshore schemes. Now contractors and freelancers are enjoying the benefits of it too.

How they work is that most of the offshore umbrella companies and offshore schemes operate through loans. Because they’ve sent money offshore untaxed, i.e. the money they earn, that money is not taxable till they bring it back onshore. However, it never does.

Because they have that money offshore, the offshore umbrella companies that they operate through will loan them money back in lieu of that. They will then take that money back at the end to pay back that loan. Money loaned is not taxable.

Different Money Comes Back Onshore

Basically it is different money that comes back onshore than the money sent off. How they work is that he contractor receives loans and never pays them back as the offshore umbrella companies take the money sent offshore in lieu of those loans.

This is all completely legal. There is nothing HMRC can do about it as it is all framed in UK law. They would have to change the law to stop it and that is fraught with difficulties and would hit the Tory Grandees who basically pay for the Conservative Party.

Very Neat Scheme

There is one other scheme, which is quite neat, which one offshore umbrella company operates. They basically invest your money in a whole range of safe companies and send you loans in lieu of that money. You may even make a profit when you eventually quit the scheme and the only tax you would pay would be capital gains tax on the profits.

The beauty of it is that you can operate this through your own limited company and it would be invisible to your agency. See details of it here – Offshore Scheme using your Limited Company

To see details of these offshore umbrella companies see Offshore Umbrella Companies Directory

Offshore Umbrella Companies – How Much Money will I keep?

How Much Money

How Much Money Will I Keep

Contractors want to know “How much money will I keep by using offshore umbrella companies?”

Is it worthwhile operating through Offshore Umbrella Companies? How much money will you save a year by operating this way?

Say you are a contractor who is earning just over £400 a day – which is around £100,000 a year.

If you operated PAYE you would probably keep about £64,000 of that.

Offshore Umbrella Companies Viable Alternative

Offshore Umbrella Companies Viable Alternative to PAYE Umbrella Companies and Limited Companies

If you operated through a Limited Company you might keep around £75,000 of that.

If you operated through one of the offshore umbrella companies you would keep something between £85,000 and £90,000 of that depending on how much you earn and your circumstances.

Operating Through Limited Company

So, if you were PAYE you would contribute about £36,000 a year towards the Treasury.

Therefore, if you operated through a Limited Company this loss would be around £25,000 a year.

However, going through one of the offshore umbrella companies you would give up between £10,000 and £15,000 a year. Most freelancers would be towards the lower side at 85% but if they got a really good contract rate they could probably negotiate up towards the higher mark.

It’s probably worthwhile getting a quote from 3 or 4 companies to see what is the best offer. You’ve worked hard enough for it and you might as well keep as much as you can of it.

Government Complaints

The Government complain about it but have no real will to stop it. As the top dog in Google asked, why are they complaining when it is they who created the rules that allowed tax avoidance in the first place?

Legal Tax Avoidance for UK contractors

Legal Tax Avoidance schemes used by UK contractors

It was the Thatcher Government who changed the rules to allow money to go offshore untaxed which gave rise to this tax avoidance in the first place. If they were to abolish it now it would hit many of the Conservative Party donors.

As one of top dogs at HMRC said recently many of these schemes are completely legal. If the Government want to make them illegal they have to change the laws. Until then, offshore Umbrella Companies are legitimate ways for contractors in the UK to avoid tax quite legally.

To see details of these offshore umbrella companies and how much money you would keep see Offshore Umbrella Companies Directory

Umbrella Company Contractors Options – Will They Now Swap to PSCs?

umbrella companies dilemma on supervision, direction and control

Umbrella Company Contractors Options

Now that the Chancellor has ruled that umbrella company contractors options can no longer include offsetting travel and subsistence expenses against tax, will they jump ship, en masse, and use personal service companies now?

Umbrella Companies have been disappointed that this has hit them but not those using personal service companies.

However, it could have been much worse for umbrella companies.

Umbrella Company Definition

Umbrella Company Definition – offshore and onshore

Abolishing Intermediaries

There had been rumours that the Chancellor was going to abolish intermediaries altogether.

He saw intermediaries as umbrella companies and personal service companies.

According to the leaks contractors were going to be on their client’s payroll once they had bene there for a month.

This rumour was changed to being only those contractors who are caught by IR35.

When it came to the Autumn Statement, and the 2016 Finance Bill, there was nothing in it at all about it and umbrella companies were most relieved.

That was an existential threat whereas this may cost them some contractors?

Mass Exodus from Umbrella Companies into PSCs?

Will there now be a mass exodus from umbrella companies into personal service companies?

Will umbrella companies lose all their contractors?

There was already a massive difference in he amount of tax and national insurance contributions paid by personal service company contractors and umbrella company contractors.

£10,000 to £15,000 a Year Difference in Tax

It’s reckoned that there would be a difference of around £10,000 a year for an IT Contractor making the average daily rate of £425 a day.

With limited company contractors still able to claim for travel and subsistence, this could rise to as much as £15,000 a year.

So, surely most of them will jump ship now?

After all, the expenses that they are able to save against tax may well be less than the amount that they now have to pay the umbrella in fees each month basically just to pay them.

Umbrella Company Contractors Options now

Umbrella Company Contractors Options lime Limited Partnerships

Most Don’t Claim Expenses

However, it seems that perhaps the majority of umbrella company contractors don’t even claim any expenses against tax in the first place.

According to giant, around 60% of their contractors don’t claim any expenses at all.

I’d seen figures of more than 50% elsewhere.

Most contractors don’t follow contractor websites.

Those that don’t and who are in umbrella companies and who don’t claim expenses will, therefore, not notice any difference.

They won’t even know what happened.

Staying With Umbrella Company

So, the vast majority of them will continue with their umbrella companies.

You could say that 50% to 60% of contractors are ‘in the bag’ for umbrella companies.

That would leave, 40% to 50% of umbrella company contractors who have been claiming expenses.

This is the vulnerable group for the brollies.

Giant reckon that “most of these are professional contractors who will be able to demonstrate that there is no supervision, direction or control over them and therefore continue to claim travel and subsistence”.

Danger They Might Join Personal Service Companies

There is a danger here, though, for giant and other umbrella companies. If those contractors can prove that they are not supervised, controlled and directed by their client company, then they may well be outside IR35.

Supervision, Direction and Control is one of the three major IR35 factors that point to being inside IR35.

If those contractors can prove they are outside that, some of them may decide to go the whole hog and save another ten grand  a year by using a personal service company instead.

That is the danger for umbrella companies.

Umbrella Company Recommendations for UK Contractors

Umbrella Company Recommendations for UK Contractors

No Existential Threat in 2016

It doesn’t look now, though, as if here is no existential threat to umbrella companies 2016.

Any further changes would be unlikely to take effect till April 2017 now.

So, how many of those 40% to 50% of umbrella company contractors who currently do claim expenses, will go?

Probably not that many will leave.

If they are not now able to claim travel and subsistence expenses against tax because they fail under the supervision, direction and control test, they are almost certainly caught by IR35 and have nowhere else to go anyway.

They cannot operate through personal service companies if that is the case.

Claiming Travel and Subsistence

So, what about those who can still claim travel and subsistence expenses against tax?

Surely, nothing changes for them.

They may well have been outside IR35 before but still chose to use an umbrella company.

Some of those did that because they did not want to take the chance of an IR35 investigation.

Others did that because they didn’t want the admin of running their own company.

So, surely not much will have changed for them.

Keeping Their Contractors

So. it looks as if umbrella companies will keep virtually all of those who didn’t claim expenses.

It will surely keep all of those who are caught by SDC and almost certainly IR35.

It will also keep most of those who can still claim expenses as they are not under SD and C.

The only ones that they might lose are those who might become more aware of the possibility of their being outside IR35 because they have had to pass the SDC test to continue to get their expenses.

Umbrella Company Contractors Options are not limited.

However, it looks as if probably 95% or more of umbrella company contractors will remain with their umbrella companies.

It may be a little harder when it comes to getting new contractors into the umbrella companies but this is a nuisance to umbrella companies rather than being an existential threat.

They will survive!

Finance Bill 2016 – How Contractors Affected by Chancellor

Finance Bill 2015 contractor effects

Finance Bill 2016

So, how will UK contractors be affected by Chancellor George Osborne’s Finance Bill 2016, the details of which he will announce on Wednesday afternoon?

UK contractors felt that they dodged a bullet in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement a couple of weeks ago.

Chancellor’s Leaks and Rumours affecting Contractors

Prior to that there had been statements from the Chancellor, leaks and rumours that:-

  1. He would take away the right of both umbrella company and personal service company contractors to be able to offset travel and subsistence expenses against tax.
  2. He would force clients, who hired contractors for more than a month, i.e. virtually all contractors, to take those contractors onto their payroll. He called these contractors off payroll employees – which shows what he really thinks of them
  3. He, with HMRC, was devising a new online IR35 test. Clients would make contractors sit this new online IR35 test. If they passed it they could operate as normal as contractors. If they failed it they would have to go on the client company’s payroll. HMRC would also keep the results of failed online tests for future reference
Finance Bill 2015 and Contractors

Finance Bill 2015 and how it affects Contractors

Chancellor Osborne’s Autumn Statement

When the Chancellor read his Autumn Statement, most of these were missing.

The only one that was there was only partially there.

He  would still stop contractors who are caught by the Intermediaries legislation (IR35), i.e. umbrella company contractors, from offsetting travel and subsistence expenses against tax.

However, those not caught by IR35, i.e. personal service company contractors, would still be able to offset travel and subsistence expenses against tax.

Chancellor Finds Extra Tax

In a press release, IPSE (ex-PCG) claimed that as a great victory for they, and their members, lobbying efforts beforehand.

This may be true. However, another factor could have been that the Treasury suddenly found an extra £27 billion in tax receipts, which they would get in the next year, meaning that the Chancellor needed less tax money.

This, and the Lords defeat, may have been why the Chancellor changed his mind on Tax Credits.

It may, also, be a reason why he pulled back out the triple threat above.

However, there is a third possibility.

Finance Bill 2015 as it affects contractors

Finance Bill 2016 and its effect on contractors

Anti-Contractor Measures in Finance Bill

That is that he is going to introduce the measure in his Finance Bill which he will produce on December 9th.

Contractors are not out of the woods, or murky water, yet.

It would seem unlikely that the Chancellor will stop personal service company contractors claiming travel and subsistence expenses against tax after saying he wouldn’t a couple of weeks earlier.

Umbrella Company Threat

However, there may be some truth in he second and third threats, i.e. forcing contractors caught by IR35 onto a client company’s payroll rather than using an umbrella company.

That would be an existential threat to umbrella companies.

Good Umbrella Companies Contractors

Good Umbrella Companies Contractors prefer

He may use the Finance Bill 2016 to announce this measure and may use it to announce a new IR35 test which has legal bearing as well.

The life of UK contractors, since IR35 was brought in, has been a constant worry.

December 9th is the next date for contractors to worry about.

Umbrella Company Reviews – Offshore Umbrella Companies

Umbrella Company Reviews for Contractors

Umbrella Company Reviews

Contractors often ask us for Umbrella Company Reviews. We are happy to oblige.

There are two types of Umbrella Company. There are offshore umbrella companies and there are onshore umbrella companies.

The Umbrella Companies HMRC prefer are the onshore umbrella companies. That’s because they get more tax from them.

Tax Avoidance Measures

So, Offshore Umbrella Companies are tax avoidance – but legal tax avoidance. They allow the contractor to keep from 80% to 90% of his, or her, money earned.

Contractors choose an umbrella company or a limited company. The Limited company options returns more to the contractor than the onshore umbrella company. However, offshore umbrella companies return the most.

We have offshore umbrella company lists and onshore umbrella company lists on other pages on this website.

Umbrella Companies Explained

Many of the offshore umbrella companies operate from the Isle of Man.

Onshore Umbrella Companies allow contractors to lay some expenses off against tax. The top umbrella companies are the safe ones.

Contractors can claim travel expenses and overnight expenses against tax as well as a few other things like pension contributions.

Umbrella Company Reviews and recommendations

Umbrella Company Reviews offshore and onshore

Umbrella Company Reviews and Comparisons

With an onshore company you would probably keep about 60% to 65% of the money you earned. With a Limited Company it would be maybe around 75%. With the offshore companies you would keep from 80% to 90%.

There are also companies which operate like the offshore ones but are onshore. They allow contractors to still use their limited companies.

Sometimes, agencies try to steer contractors towards particular umbrella companies. However, the suspicion is that they get commission from doing this. This is illegal under the 2010 Bribery Act – but they still do it.

Working through those offshore umbrella companies is the most lucrative for contractors. Using umbrella companies like that will have returns of up to 90%.

Umbrella Company List

To find some of these offshore umbrella companies, and more umbrella company reviews, you should click on Offshore Umbrella Company List

Contractors who want to find moneymaking opportunities should click on Contractor Moneymaking

Rangers Tax Case – HMRC accused of bringing them down

Rangers Tax Case

Rangers Tax Case

Rangers Tax Case – a former owner has accused HMRC of bringing a great football club, Glasgow Rangers, down via a spurious tax claim against them.

HMRC demanded more than £46m from Rangers after they used offshore Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs). HMRC lost the Rangers tax case in a 2-1 verdict at a First Tier Tribunal in November 2012.

So, they decided to appeal it. The judge has now thrown that appeal out too.

EBTs for UK Contractors

HMRC said that Rangers were using EBTs to pay top players salaries. However, the tribunal and then the judge said that the money given to the players were loans.

Now, former owner, David Murray, said that the tax demand was instrumental in Glasgow Rangers being liquidated.

He said that the case hanging over the club caused the market to have a lower perception of the value of the club.

Bought by Craig White

Eventually Craig Whyte bought the club for just £1.

Rangers Tax Case

Rangers Tax Case from Rangers football club

He would have to pay the debt of £18m to Lloyd’s Bank as part of the agreement. Unfortunately, he financed that out of future season ticket sales.

As a result of Rangers not making it into the group stages of the Champions League and Rangers season ticket income already being spent, they got into tax and VAT trouble. So, they went into administration and then liquidation.

Rangers Enquiry

Now David Murray wants the Government to start an enquiry over the Rangers Case and how HMRC acted. It seems that Rangers offered HMRC a substantial amount of money to settle the case but turned it down.

Rangers tax case and their defeat could have huge ramifications for HMRC. They were using Rangers as an example.

It’s estimated that there are 5000 other companies using this route, including a number of top English football clubs.

So, a win for HMRC in the Rangers Tax Case could have produced a huge windfall for HMRC.

However, defeat in the Rangers Case has now caused them a lot of trouble amongst football fans and club owners. There will be a backlash against HMRC.

Rangers Supporters Club

According to a Rangers Supporters Club the Rangers tax case has caused a lot of pain to Rangers. They said “Rangers Football Club and its fans have been the victims of a witch-hunt by HMRC. It has done tremendous damage to a proud Scottish institution.

“Why did HMRC continue with this spurious claim when they were offered settlement? We deserve answers as to why this was done to our club”.

It was revealed, last year, that HMRC had come to settlement with many major firms. They were panned for it.

Therefore, the Rangers tax affair could still up a whole can of worms for HMRC. Football fans are not to be trifled with.

For a list of Offshore Umbrella Companies for Contractors click on Offshore Umbrella Companies List

Rangers Update

HMRC appealed the case again and won it. Now Rangers are going to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Crushing HMRC defeat in Rangers offshore tax case

Rangers Tax Case

HMRC Defeat

There was a crushing HMRC defeat in its appeal against Rangers football club’s use of offshore Employee Benefits Trust (EBTs) to pay its players. There was a major HMRC defeat in the original case by 2-1.

HMRC said that these were payments rather than loans. The First Tier Tribunal (FTT) said they were loans. HMRC lost.
The case, and the tax said to be owed, was a major in bringing down Rangers Football Club.

HMRC Appeal

It was a crushing HMRC defeat but they quickly decided to appeal. They have now lost that appeal. The tribunal judge Lord Doherty ruled against HMRC and in favour of Rangers. It confirms that the EBTs and offshore umbrella companies were completely legal.

This HMRC defeat will have major consequences. Tory Grandees, including David Cameron’s father, his father-in-law, Lord Astor, and the Tory Party main sponsor, Lord Ashcroft, have long used these schemes. George Osborne has an offshore family trust.

However, they didn’t like it when this nice scheme spread to the likes of actors, pop artists, footballers and comedians. Nowadays, contractors and freelancers us them. Many of them are in offshore umbrella companies.

Sleep Safely

Now, after this huge HMRC defeat, freelancers and contractors who use offshore umbrella companies can sleep more safely in their beds at night.

A spokesman for Murray International holdings (MIH) which owned Rangers and made the offshore payments to players said:-

“We are pleased with the judgement. It again leaves negligible tax liability. It overwhelmingly supports the views collectively and consistently held by our advisers, legal counsel and MIH itself”.

Rangers were forced into liquidation in 2012 by HMRC.

Rangers Update

HMRC appealed this case again and won. Rangers are now going to appeal that to the Supreme Court.

More Info

For a list of Offshore Umbrella Companies for Contractors click on Offshore Umbrella Companies List

See also Offshore Schemes legal says top HMRC boss

Offshore Umbrella Companies and how they work

Begging Letters Sent Out by HMRC on Offshore Umbrella Companies

Begging Letters from HMRC to UK Contractors

Begging letters from HMRC

As regards Offshore Umbrella Companies HMRC is to continue sending out threatening begging letters to contractors. This is an attempt to get money from them for using offshore schemes that are completely legal.

Said one offshore umbrella company owner “To be honest it’s HMRC scare mongering. They know they can’t legally demand retrospective taxes. However they sent out 30,000 letters in 2013 and will again this year”.

They cannot hope to process that number of contractors, especially when their staff numbers have been cut. However, they are hoping to scare contractors into sending them money.

Tax Avoidance, Not Tax Evasion

Their big problem is that offshore umbrella companies are tax avoidance rather than tax evasion. One is legal and one is illegal.

What HMRC really need to do, if they want all that tax money, is to get the Government to change the laws to make it illegal.

However, despite what they say, the Government have little interest in shutting this down. They are not keen for comedians like Jimmy Carr to use tax avoidance schemes or indeed common or garden contractors.

Legal Tax Avoidance

Most of their donors use tax avoidance. Indeed Cameron’s own money came that way as his father was a setter-up of offshore avoidance schemes and was into it earlier than most people. So, this is where Cameron’s inheritance came from.

George Osborne has an offshore family trust worth around £5m. They probably teach Tax Avoidance at Eton.

Most of the offshore tax avoidance islands around the world are British colonies where the hedge funds ‘reside’.

Isle of Man

Offshore Umbrella Companies for contractors, which are mostly in the Isle of Man, are allowing contractors to do the same as the ‘knobs’ and avoid tax.

As regards offshore umbrella companies HMRC would love this to be changed. However, there is no way that the Tories will annoy their benefactors and sponsors by killing off this golden goose. It is annoying for them that contractors and comedians can’t be kept out.

So, as regards offshore umbrella companies, HMRC just have to send out begging letters to thousands of contractors. They may or may not be using offshore umbrella companies. They hope to can scare them into sending them money.

For a list of Offshore Umbrella Companies you should click Offshore Umbrella Companies List

Offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Companies – Autumn Statement leaves them alone

Autumn Statement

Autumn Statement

Offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Companies are in the news due to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The Chancellor unveiled his new tax avoidance measures yesterday in the autumn statement. He says will net the government £9bn extra in taxes. However, he has made those predictions before and only managed to get a fraction of what he expected to get. Most contractors using offshore  Isle of Man Umbrella Companies will not be hit.

There are two areas that the Chancellor is attacking as regards tax avoidance.

Intermediary Companies Legislation

Firstly, the Chancellor is targeting Intermediary Companies.

This is where UK companies register their UK employees as self-employed and pay them through Intermediary companies offshore. This saves the employer paying National Insurance on them.

Several hundred thousand construction workers are ’employed’ this way. It is the companies that get the main benefit. It is not something that affects most contractors in Offshore Umbrella Companies.

False Partnerships Crackdown

Secondly, the Government is going to crack down on what they see as false partnerships, i.e. those set up just to avoid tax. This may affect some Offshore Umbrella Company contractors, if the Isle of Man Umbrella Companies have set them up as partners. However, it is only a small percentage that are set up this way.

All that would happen here is that the offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Company owner would change to a new scheme that is legal and move their contractor over to it.

This legislation is not retrospective so there would be no legacy problems for contractors here. There will be no back payments that HMRC can claim. The very fact that they are changing the law on partnerships means that it was legal before. It will be legal right up to April 2014 when the contractors, presumably, will move to a new legal Offshore Umbrella Company scheme.

Government and HMRC

It would be different if the Government and HMRC fought a scheme through the courts and won. Then the contractors might have problems. However, the Government haven’t won many of these.

If the Government are to get anywhere near the £9bn that they expect to get then they are going to have to get it through the Intermediaries side of it. They may get some from onshore partnerships.

Offshore Isle of Man Companies

However, after this autumn statement those contractors using offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Companies can rest more easily. They weren’t in the Government’s line of fire this time around.

The vast majority of the offshore umbrella company schemes were legal and remain legal under current UK laws. If they do make them illegal, in the future, the legislation will not be retrospective. So, contractors whose schemes are made illegal will not lose out and have to pay back taxes.

For a list of legal Offshore Umbrella Companies you should click on Offshore Umbrella Company List

Applying for Contractor Mortgages

If you want to find out more see Specialist Contractor Mortgages

To apply for one of those specialist contractor mortgages see Contractor Mortgages Application

 

Disguised Contractors versus Disguised Employees

Disguised Contractors

Disguised Contractors

We have a new concept of disguised contractors.

The reason that the Government brought in IR35 in 1999 was because they believed that many contractors were just disguised employees. Many companies were laying off permanent workers on the Friday and they were starting in the same job on the Monday as contractors.

This saved the company money in taxation and NI contributions and gave the companies a more flexible workforce. They could lay off these new contractors without redundancy payments when times were tight. They could, maybe, hire them again when things picked up.

It was good for the new contractors, as well. They could offset a lot of things against tax that they couldn’t before. It was a win-win situation. Rather it was a win-win-lose situation with the Government / HMRC / taxpayer as the loser.

Disguised Employees

The Government, and HMRC, quite rightly saw these as disguised employees. It was a scam – a tax avoidance scam.

However, the law that the Government brought in, IR35, caught not only those disguised employee contractors in its nets but tens of thousands of contractors who had been operating, quite legally, as Limited Company contractors for years. It is still catching them in their IR35 nets.

The Government hadn’t meant to in the first place. However, when they saw the extra revenue brought in they decided they quite liked that. When the Conservatives were in opposition they gave winks and nods to the PCG about abolishing IR35.

Looked At IR35 Again

Well, they didn’t actually promise to get rid of IR35 but to ‘look at’ it again. They did look at it and decided to keep it. The main reason was that there was a danger that contractors would get out of Umbrella Companies en masse and start up Limited Companies again.

As there are 200,000 Umbrella Company contractors at the moment and they pay, on average, £10,000 a year more in Tax and NI contributions this would be a loss to the Treasury of £2bn a year. They didn’t fancy that. Surely nobody really believed that they would hand back a load of money to people earning several hundred a day.

Government Prefer Umbrella Companies

The Government appear to want as many contractors as they can to get into Umbrella Companies. Although these contractors are able to claim more expenses than a permanent person could claim, while working through an Umbrella Company, HMRC appear to be happy to allow this to happen. They much prefer dealing with a few hundred Umbrella Companies than a million small Limited Companies.

The Umbrella Companies cream off the contractor’s PAYE tax and NI contributions and sends them on to HMRC each week.

Yes, that’s right, these contractors pay PAYE. They are, as far as HMRC are concerned, permanent employees.

Disguised Contractors v Disguised Employees

So, in getting rid of Disguised Employees they have now created what are, effectively, hundreds of thousands of Disguised Contractors.

The disguised contractors are really contractors but they are dressed up as employees of the Umbrella Companies.

The Umbrella Companies are, in effect, a ruse. They are a device so that contractors, whom IR35 catches, can pretend to be employees of the Umbrella Companies (who don’t produce or make anything) in order to claim some expenses against tax.

You couldn’t make this up!

Waste of Time and Money

Isn’t this all just a waste of time and money?

Couldn’t they just have come up with some solution to stop companies changing employees into contractors in the same job over a weekend? Surely it shouldn’t have been so hard to stop that.

Instead they created the monster IR35 which has created an industry in keeping hundreds of thousands of contractors outside IR35 and hundreds of thousands of contractors ‘dressed up’ as employees.

What a terrible waste of everyone’s time and money!

For a list of legal Offshore Umbrella Companies you should click on Offshore Umbrella Company List

Rise in Use of Offshore Umbrella Companies

Rise in Usage of Offshore Umbrella Companies

Rise in Offshore Umbrella Companies

Offshore Umbrella Companies appear to be on the rise. One of the top dogs at HMRC recently said that many offshore schemes were completely legal.

Top people in the Conservative Party have been using these schemes for a long, long time. Indeed David Cameron’s inheritance came to a great extent from the money his father Ian made from setting up offshore schemes for himself and for others.

His father-in-law Lord Astor has many offshore schemes. Indeed the house in Scotland that David Cameron and his wife visit every year is registered in the Bahamas.

The top Tory party donor Lord Ashcroft is another one who operates offshore tax avoidance schemes. He is also the Tory party’s top fundraiser.

Tory Party Leaders

The top dogs in the Tory party have been doing this for years. They are getting on their high horses about multi-national companies joining them in doing this now. They didn’t create these rule for them (nor for comedians like Jimmy Carr) but for the ‘good old boy’ network.

As the head of Google said, it wasn’t Google that created the rules. It was, previous, mainly Conservative governments who created them. Making money moved offshore untaxable was one of the first things the Conservative government brought in when they won the 1979 election.

Now, contractors and freelancers are doing the same and setting up offshore umbrella companies. Of course the Government don’t like it but if they changed the rules it would affect many of their own supporters and donors. They liked it best when it was only the ‘good old boys’ that were able to take advantage of it.

Margaret Hodge Avoiding Tax

Even Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, who has been bashing multi-national companies as immoral for avoiding tax, turned out to be a shareholder in an offshore company that pays less than 2% tax. Her share is worth millions and she got a dividend of £50,000 last year. Everyone is at it now, it seems, except the PAYE workers who now pay most of the tax.

Contractors and freelancers can now get 85% or more of their money returned to them through using offshore umbrella companies. It is very difficult for the Conservatives to change the rules so that contractors and multi-national companies are hit and Tory party donors and members aren’t hit. They don’t want to share this goldmine but they don’t want to lose it either.

This is why more and more contractors are operating through these offshore umbrella companies. Their usage is on the rise. To see a list of these companies click on Offshore Umbrella Company Directory

General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) will not catch multinationals

General Anti Avoidance Rules offshore

General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR)

There is a common misperception that the new General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) will force companies like Google, Facebook and Starbucks to pay more UK tax. It will do no such thing and it is not even aimed at them.

Playing Field

The problem that the UK Government has in this area is that it doesn’t control the playing field. Other countries can use whatever rate of Corporation tax that they like and the UK cannot do anything about it. They can’t tell Ireland, Luxembourg and Switzerland what Corporation Tax to set.

Maybe the EU could but remember that the EU has a common VAT rate – but Britain has a different one. This would certainly be brought up if Britain tried to introduce a standard rate of corporation tax across the EU.

Switzerland is not even in the EU anyway and neither are the Bahamas, Bermuda etc.

Loading Up Costs

In terms of General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR), it’s also up to companies in which countries they load up costs and in which countries they have low costs and high profits.

General Anti Avoidance Rules

General Anti Avoidance Rules affecting UK contractors

Those countries with low corporation tax rates lose out as the companies incur fewer costs there like opening factories or hiring people.

Those with higher rates of tax will ge the benefit of the companies loading up costs by running their operations there. Those countries will earn income tax and have fewer people claiming unemployment benefit.

Dice Loaded

It’s swings and roundabouts. Cameron is trying to load the dice so that the UK can get both jobs and the corporation tax. However, he can’t bring in many measures to do so. He would have to get international cooperation and that will prove very difficult to do with low tax countries like Ireland saying that their corporation tax rate of 12.5% was not negotiable even when they were being forced into a bailout.

Any multinational agreement on all of this is a long way off, if it happens at all. Why should countries not compete on tax rates as well as on everything else. Surely that’s the free market. Surely a Conservative would understand that. Why do they want or need General Anti Avoidance rules (GAAR)?

Facebook avoiding UK Tax

Facebook

Facebook

Facebook are the latest company caught avoiding UK Tax. They made £840m in profits last year. However, they paid just £2.9m in tax – all of it in Ireland. Although they only hire 287 staff in Ireland all, of the advertising outside the USA they book to Facebook Ireland.

They book the profit to Ireland. However, they then move that money out of Ireland to the Cayman Islands and its Californian parent. The technique is called Double Irish. They charge the Irish company royalties for using the Facebook brand in much the same as Starbucks do. They moved £750m that way.

Advertising Revenues

Facebook then reported a loss of £15m loss in Ireland despite all the advertising revenues outside the US ending up there. This is even though 44% of Facebook’s revenues come into Ireland.

At least they gave Ireland £2.9m. They gave the UK just £238,000 in Corporation tax. Facebook say that they comply with all UK laws – and of course they do. They just know how to work the system.

It said that it picked Ireland as its European base because it was the “best location to hire staff with the right skills to run a multilingual hi-tech operation serving the whole of Europe”.

The low Corporation Tax of 12.5% and the ability to do be able to do a Double Irish, it seems, played no part in the decision to go there. Of course, Ireland didn’t get any great benefits from Facebook in terms of Company Tax. Although Facebook’s Irish staff pay income tax there.

UK Tax Avoidance

The Chancellor George Osborne has promised to do something about it. However, it will be difficult and he risks major companies pulling out of the UK. He is going to target high income earners in the UK who hide money overseas.

However, most of the schemes are completely legal. Neither the individuals or companies, like Facebook, are breaking any laws. It is legal tax avoidance rather than illegal tax evasion.

The big problem is with companies who charge other companies within the group royalty payments for using the brand name. They are perfectly entitled to do so. They are perfectly entitled to charge them anything they want for the use of it too.

Perhaps that is one area where the UK can legislate, i.e. to limit the amount that they can charge for using the brand name. Of course, those companies will then look for other costs that they can load up in the locations where they want to load up costs.

Forced Disclosure for Isle of Man Umbrella Companies

Forced Disclosure

Forced Disclosure

Forced disclosure is the latest Government tool against tax evasion.

The Government has just announced a new deal with the Isle of Man where the island will give the Government the names of UK citizens with offshore bank accounts. Forced disclosure is the latest in their war against tax avoiders. This has been whipped up by the media in the UK. Similar deals with Jersey and Guernsey are expected soon.

Said Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in an interview with The Times “Any jurisdiction that refuses to enter into one of these information disclosure agreements is taking a huge risk with their reputation. It’s the price of doing business”.

So, it looks as if the Isle of Man agreed voluntarily to a certain extent. Said Alexander “Every tax jurisdiction that once thought it could operate on the basis that it could be an offshore haven needs to think again. Everyone should pay their proper amount of tax.”

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man’s Chief Minister said “This decision is a well-considered next step in the island’s long-established policy of commitment to being at the forefront of tax transparency and international co-operation. It is logical for the Isle of Man to embrace new forms of tax co-operation with our largest trading partner, the UK”. So there you ar then.

So, what does that mean for contractors who are operating under offshore umbrella companies schemes there? Does forced disclosure mean that the game is up for them? Will those offshore umbrella companies have to shut down now?

Government Frustration

Far from it. Forced disclosure is more to do with tax evaders than tax avoiders. The Government’s frustration is because most of these schemes are legal under the laws of the UK. Therefore, it would be very hard for the Government to shut them down. Most of the companies in the Isle of Man already disclose this information anyway. They have nothing to hide if they are acting legally and the schemes are legal.

Government Frustration

As the Government can do little about it, what they are trying to do now, in frustration, is to scare contractors out of the offshore umbrella companies. They are doing this by forcing the Isle of Man to bring in disclosure rules to hand that information over to the UK Government. However, once the Government has that information they can’t use it to prosecute people who are operating within the law.